You’ve seen the headlines: fire retardants in crib mattresses, endocrine disruptors in baby bottles, carcinogens in cosmetics, secret toxic fragrance chemicals. You think, “Well, of course I want to avoid these and find the healthy options.” You start out with the best of intentions, and then you discover it’s harder than you thought to figure out what’s actually safe and what’s not.
You turn over countless products to look at labels. Some products don’t even have labels, so you sit down at your computer or pull out your smartphone to do endless research. You discover the meaning of the word “greenwashing.”
We believe it should be easier than this. At MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients), we believe that products should be made without known carcinogens, behavioral, reproductive, and neuro toxins, hormone disruptors, heavy metals, high risk pesticides, flame retardants, toxic solvents, and harmful VOCs. If that sounds logical or you also believe that should be the case, then the MADE SAFE seal should be your go-to when shopping, too.
We also believe that you should have the information you need to start avoiding chemicals in your life, and we want to make that easy, too. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to begin to detox your home, in addition to looking for the MADE SAFE seal.
Remember that every step to reduce toxics is a good and meaningful step, and has impact toward a healthier environment for you and your family!
Below are ten places to start for ousting toxic chemicals from your life.
1. Bedding. Flame retardants are commonly added to the polyurethane foam in conventional bedding. When it’s time to change the mattress, switch to bedding made from natural fibers like cotton or wool. While “flame retardants” may sound good, they’re not good for you. Make sure your pillow isn’t made from synthetic materials as well.
2. Rug pads. Rug pads also contain foam filled with flame retardants. If you have a carpet with a rug pad, have the pad removed. Flame retardants are among some of the most persistent and toxic chemicals found in homes. Use non-toxic double-sided tape to prevent sliding instead.
3. New furniture purchases. Many sofas, recliners, and children’s furniture items can also contain foam that contains flame retardants. Make a note for all future furniture purchases to shop flame retardant-free items made from natural fabrics.
4. Non-stick cookware. The coating in non-stick cookware like Teflon contains perfluorinated compounds, including Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and is released when Teflon is heated. Opt instead for stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
5. Dry cleaning. Perchloroethylene (PERC), the most common cleaning solvent used for dry cleaning, gets trapped into clothing once “cleaned” and slowly off-gases into your home. It can harm the brain and central nervous system, damage the liver and kidneys, and is likely to cause cancer, according to the NRDC. Instead, use the traditional laundry wash/dry/fold option, using fragrance-free detergent if possible. Which brings us to…
6. Fragrance. Some of the scents we’ve grown to love, like freshly folded laundry, that lemony clean smell, or cinnamon-scented room fresheners are loaded with allergens and harmful chemicals like phthalates and synthetic musks. Common chemicals in fragrance have been linked to longer-term damage like obesity, diabetes, infertility, ADD, and ADHD. Fragrance chemicals are rarely disclosed on product labels, hidden instead under the umbrella term “fragrance.” Reduce your use of fragranced products where you can.
7. Pesticides. The cancer rates in children are up 25% since 1975. The Pesticide Action Network has taken a very clear stand relating this to the increase in use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. The American Academy of Pediatrics points to pesticide residue in food as the most critical route of exposure, which luckily, is one we have some control over. Buy organic food where possible, and refer to resources like the Pesticide Action Network to find foods grown with less pesticides.
Did you know that active ingredients in bug repellents are usually high-risk pesticides?
8. Plastics. Between phthalates, BPA, biodegradability issues, and more, there may not actually be any “safe” plastics. But we live in a world where plastics are abundant, and frankly, hard to avoid. Try to reduce plastic use where you can, and opt for better plastics like polyethylene #1, #2, #4 as well as polypropylene #5. All the others are to be avoided. Don’t expose them to high heat: never microwave with them and don’t put them in the dishwasher. Switch out for an alternative whenever possible.
9. Cleaning products. Products for cleaning your home can contain harmful chemicals from phthalates (endocrine disrupting chemicals) to make them smell good, to pesticides (see above, for killing germs and mold) and more. They’re associated with asthma, cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, burns and poisonings, according to Women’s Voices for the Earth. Disinfectants and antibacterial cleaners usually contain registered pesticides that represent unnecessary exposures for everyday household use. Reduce your use of disinfectants and consider making your own.
10. Personal Care & Salon Products. Chemical hair straighteners can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Most conventional hair dyes contain ammonia, parabens, sulfates, and 1,4-dioxane, among other known cancer-causing chemicals. Many nail polishes contain something known as the “toxic trio,” a blend of toluene (linked to neurological damage and reproductive harm), DBP (linked to hormone disruption), and formaldehyde (known carcinogen), which even on their own are bad. Learn more about toxic chemicals in salon products and cosmetics. Make a point to replace what you have with less toxic brands.